Build Digital Democracy.

Open sharing of data that are collected with smart devices would empower citizens and create jobs, say Dirk Helbing and Evangelos Pournaras.

Fridges, coffee machines, toothbrushes, phones and smart devices are all now equipped with communicating sensors. In ten years, 150 billion ‘things’ will connect with each other and with billions of people. The ‘Internet of Things’ will generate data volumes that double every 12 hours rather than every 12 months, as is the case now.

Blinded by information, we need ‘digital sunglasses’. Whoever builds the filters to monetize this information determines what we see — Google and Facebook, for example. Many choices that people consider their own are already determined by algorithms. Such remote control weakens responsible, self-determined decision-making and thus society too.

The European Court of Justice’s ruling on 6 October that countries and companies must comply with European data-protection laws when transferring data outside the European Union demonstrates that a new digital paradigm is overdue. To ensure that no government, company or person with sole control of digital filters can manipulate our decisions, we need information systems that are transparent, trustworthy and user-controlled. Each of us must be able to choose, modify and build our own tools for winnowing information.

Helbing, D. und Pournaras, E.
Nature 527, S. 33-34
2015

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